Simile(Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments), a joint project conducted by w3C and MIT Libraries, released a visualization tool for time-based information. From the project description, its a DHTML-based AJAXy widget for visualizing time-based events. Below is the screen shot of the JFK Assassination timeline - a minute by minute development when John F. Kennedy got shot on November 22nd, 1963 in Dallas.
Live example can be found at http://simile.mit.edu/timeline/examples/jfk/jfk.html.
Timeline can be used with zero software installation, server-side or client-side. And like Google Maps, you can populate Timeline with data by pointing it to an XML like this :
<event start=”May 28 2006 09:00:00 GMT” end=”Jun 15 2006 09:00:00 GMT” isDuration=”true” title=”Writing Timeline documentation” image=”http://simile.mit.edu/images/csail-logo.gif”>A few days to write some documentation for <a href=”http://simile.mit.edu/timeline/”>Timeline</a>.</event>
<event start=”Jun 16 2006 00:00:00 GMT” end=”Jun 26 2006 00:00:00 GMT” title=”Friend’s wedding”>I’m not sure precisely when my friend’s wedding is.</event>
<event start=”Aug 02 2006 08:35:00 GMT-0500″ title=”Board plane in Boston” />
<event start=”Aug 02 2006 10:35:00 GMT-0500″ title=”Land in Newwark, New York” />
<event start=”Aug 02 2006 11:55:00 GMT-0500″ title=”Board plane in Newwark, New York” />
<event start=”Aug 03 2006 03:30:00 GMT-0500″ title=”Land in Beijing in China” />
<event start=”Aug 03 2006 07:00:00 GMT-0500″ title=”Dinner with old colleagues” />
This widget contains one or more bands, which can be panned infinitely by dragging with the mouse pointer. A band can be configured to synchronize with another band such that panning one band also scrolls the other. Each band is implemented as inner div element inside the timeline main div element. Timeline also supports Hot Zones, where you can have the effect of zooming in. For example if you have the default timeline of month, but if you want to display detailed information in particular month on a day basis or hourly basis in a day, you can use Hot Zones to zoom in.
It is open source software licensed under the BSD license and the source code is available at http://simile.mit.edu/repository/timeline/.